But what are they? What is this strange object for?
So I was surprised to find that this lettering (not at all illegible!) is French – and simply states “Au Gui L’An Nouveau” a variant on the usual “Au Gui L’An Neuf” – the traditional French ‘Mistletoe for the New Year slogan. Can’t think why the vendor didn’t notice this.
But it partially answers the mystery – it’s something for the New Year. And judging by the obvious wear to the mug sides it has been in regular use – perhaps passed round a drunken crowd in the early hours of January 1st for some decades?
But this isn’t a particularly fine example of the type – compare it with this pic of a much classier version, also recently advertised on Ebay. This has a maker’s name ‘Jules Brateau’ and a date of c 1900.
This ‘posher’ one had a reserve of several £100, but I picked up my version for just £30 – I think I prefer mine, not ‘cos it was cheaper but because it’s obviously been used.